TEACHER AND PEOPLE
T PIERCE BROWN
Teachers teach people, not mere facts or concepts. That may seem so plain to some persons that they think everyone must be aware of it, but sadly, even some who would say that they are aware of it do not practice the principle. Let me give a personal illustration about how I learned the principle fairly early in life, but have not always practiced it.
Before I started to High School inSparta,TennesseeI had never been to town. I lived 13 miles from there, and since we were to poor to spend anything unnecessarily, my primary experience with anyone besides a few neighbors who lived a mile or two away was vicarious experience. I read all of the Saturday Evening Posts I could borrow from a neighbor who was rich enough to subscribe, all of Zane Grey’s books I could borrow from a traveling library, the Sears & Roebuck catalogue, and anything else I could lay hands on. In the cowboy books, I read that the cowboy would sit on his stallion and “soliloquize thus.” So when I went to high school, realizing I was going to be in contact with highfalutin people (I did not know whether it was high faluten or how to spell it, for I had only heard the word pronounced by my parents), or educated society folks, I put on my shoes and a necktie and proudly went off to school. As I was conversing with my teacher or some students, I recounted that as I was planning to come to school, I “soliloquized thus” and told them of my soliloquy. They looked at me in shocked surprise, or amazement, but I did not immediately realize what the problem was. The teacher probably thought I was trying to show off, but I was really showing off was my ignorance of how to communicate with people. I thought that ordinary persons who went to high school or who taught there would at least speak as well as Zane Grey’s cowboys. None of my neighbors or children with whom I had talked (and I had talked to very few adults) had ever been to high school, so I did not know how an educated person would talk. It took me a little while to learn that “book language” and “people language” were different things.
That is part of the point of my article today. A preacher or teacher needs to realize that we are supposed to communicate with persons, not simply speak some language that might express some truth. I knew of a person who asked his girlfriend if she wanted to engage in some nocturnal osculatory perambulation. She said, “No,” because she did not understand that he was asking her if she wanted to walk around some night and kiss. She may have said the same thing if she had understood. However, the result might have been different if he had realized that to communicate you must talk or write so the person with whom you wish to communicate can easily understand what you mean. Ezra understood this principle as we find in Neh.8:8,”So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” Paul knew it when he wrote in1 Cor. 14:11, “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.”
What I am trying to say in simple language is, “Do not engage in indecorous loquacious verbosity, for only an erudite autodidactic person will comprehend.” Know what I mean?
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.